The Pilot Hill Project, a community collaboration, has announced the public can begin to enjoy the Pilot Hill Recreation Area on limited bases starting on Sunday.
According to the organization’s statement released Friday, the property will be open from top to bottom for non-motorized use along the two-track road. It meets the eastern side of the Schoolyard Section, and heads East up the foothills to the eastern boundary of the Pilot Hill property. The road was used as a route during the Pilot Hill Community Access Days in the fall of 2019.
The public is encouraged to access the property from the east end of Willet Drive, the north end of Boulder Drive or from the corner of 45th and Crow streets. Recreationists should respect all private property as they park their vehicles and make their way to the parcel.
From the eastern side of the Pilot Hill Recreation Area, public access is available from a walk-through gate at the north end of U.S. Forest Service Road 703. There is currently no access to the recreation area from Forest Roads 703.C, 703.F or 703.G, which lead to the Wildlife Habitat Management Area portion of the property.
“We appreciate everyone’s support in respecting these restrictions and working with us as we partner with the U.S. Forest Service, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and surrounding private property owners to allow for additional access to the Pilot Hill area,” Commissioner Terri Jones, Pilot Hill Committee member, said in the statement.
Pilot Hill Inc. is still completing fencing and signage along the recreation corridor and within the Wildlife Habitat Management Area and is finalizing agreements with partnering property owners. Jones said all stakeholders are collaborating to continue opening the property further in the coming months.
“We are working to get as much of the property open as quickly as we can this fall so that Laramie residents and visitors can enjoy Pilot Hill before the snow flies,” Jones said. “We encourage recreationists to check the website for additional information on the areas that are now open, and to watch for progress on the property over the coming months.”
A land swap to acquire the 4,344-acre Pilot Hill parcel was completed in late August, activating a lease agreement between the state of Wyoming and Albany County. In November, the University of Wyoming formalized its partnership in the Pilot Hill Project with the purchase of 1,233 acres of the parcel. In addition, a Recreation and Public Purpose Lease application is being considered by the BLM. The entire property will be managed jointly by the nonprofit Pilot Hill Inc. to provide an uninterrupted experience for visitors.
Since 2018, citizens, businesses and other organizations have donated more than $1 million for infrastructure and access development. A land-use plan has been developed, and construction of the first trails is expected to begin this fall.
Recreational opportunities will include non-motorized trails for hikers, cyclists and equestrians that connect the city of Laramie to the Medicine Bow National Forest to the east. A portion of the property will be maintained with a primary focus on preserving critical habitat for elk, mule deer and pronghorn.
A community-wide celebration and grand opening for Pilot Hill is planned for next summer.
The Pilot Hill Project is a community collaboration to preserve undeveloped open space east of Laramie, which will protect wildlife habitat and the recharge zone for the Casper Aquifer, a drinking water resource for Albany County, enhance recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, and promote economic development by providing a world-class natural amenity to attract and retain businesses and their employees.